Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls welcome to Rubislaw. I hope you enjoy today’s game and fingers crossed we see some fine rugby played in good spirit and an Aberdeen Grammar/Rugby Ltd victory to celebrate at full time!
As a squad we are really looking forward to the new season after a nail biting end to last year. Many of the players have expressed to me how the support they received from the crowd at Rubislaw towards the end of last season really inspired the team to dig deep and secure the great results we needed that saw us move safe from relegation with a game to spare. I hope the players can give you all something to shout about today!
For the new season I am delighted to announce that we have a new player leadership team in place with Callum Champion taking on the role of 1XV captain. Callum has shown a real maturity in his game over recent seasons and is a standout leader in the forward pack who has the full support of the squad and I am fully convinced that he will do a fine job in this role. He will be aided by Grant Walker and Alex Ratcliffe as vice captains as we look to extend the leadership responsibilities across the team.
As with all off seasons player will move on, new players arrive and this year is no exception. We have said goodbye to some Grammar stalwarts such as Alex Hagart, Stuart Smith, Aidy Hamilton and Tony McGinness. These players have performed superbly over the years for Grammar for which we thank them and offer our best wishes as they move on to new things. Hopefully we may see some of them back in a Grammar jersey in the not too distant future!
I am also very happy to share with you some of the signings we have made over the off-season. In the forward pack Harry Bloomfield has made the short trip across the city from Aberdeenshire to bolster our second row options and Rob Ellinson has come into the front row from playing club rugby in England. Both players have greatly impressed during preseason and have added great quality to our squad. In the backs, we have added Matt Arnold on the wing who joins the club while studying at Aberdeen University and Jamie Troup moves up from Edinburgh Accies, fresh from his exploits at scrum half in the U20 inter-district championship.
The level of competition for places in the 1st XV this year is going to be as strong as I have ever seen it at Grammar. A number of players like Jordan Robertson, Doug Russell and Sam Knudson and others have worked very hard in the gym over the off-season and I’m looking forward to seeing the rewards of their efforts as we move through the season.
The league promises to be an exciting one this year and I know that our squad and coaching team are all desperately excited to get started. I hope you enjoy the season, and as ever, I know we can rely on your support come wind, rain or shine! Your support means a lot to the squad.
Ali O’Connor (Head Coach and Development Officer)